The Real Science Behind
The Odd Shelf
Can Memories Be Inherited?
Scientists have investigated the theory of inheritable memories for years, with controversial findings. Curious researchers have examined bacteria, worms, and even toads to find out whether living beings can pass their memories down to subsequent generations.
Evidence has proven in all the aforementioned species that memories can impact their progeny in ways that help them adapt based on the nature of the particular experience. So how does this apply to humans? Are we all living adaptations of the collective experiences of our ancestors?
Previous research led by KAUST marine scientist Manuel Aranda had shown that chronically stressed corals develop changes in their epigenetic patterns. “We were curious to find out if corals, like plants, could pass epigenetic information to the next generation,” says Liew. “From a biological perspective, this would shatter the common assumption that epigenetic patterns are reset across generations in all animals.”
“Our initial results were startling,” says Liew.
The analyses showed that the DNA methylation patterns were most similar between sperm and their parent coral. “We think this is the first solid proof for intergenerational transfer of whole-genome DNA methylation patterns in an animal,” Liew says.
With ice-strengthened vessels that had already proven their worth in the Antarctic, the Franklin Expedition was the best-equipped assault on the Passage ever launched. A little over two months after setting sail, the Erebus and Terror were spotted in Baffin Bay, just east of the Passage’s entrance; and then, they disappeared. None of the crew was ever seen by Europeans again.
A Parks Canada research team is en route to the underwater wrecks of Sir John Franklin's ships in an effort to uncover more truths of what happened on the infamous and ill-fated expedition to find the Northwest Passage.
This year's archeological exploration plan of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror that were lost for nearly 170 years is being called the "largest, most complex underwater archeological undertaking in Canadian history" by government officials in a public announcement Friday.
The truth was unavoidable. My beloved father, who died in a car accident when I was 23, had not been my biological father.
This discovery led me deep into a world I had known nothing about: the history, science and psychological underpinnings of assisted reproduction. I have spent the past few years piecing together the story of how I came to be, the truth of where (and who) I come from–and the ways in which my identity was scrupulously hidden from me.
Underwater archaeologists have finished their latest research trip to the wreck of the HMS Erebus, a ship abandoned in the Canadian Arctic 170 years ago during the ill-fated Franklin expedition.
Harsh weather conditions hampered this month's mission. Divers could not enter Sir John Franklin's cabin, where they had hoped to find documents or the ship's logs preserved in icy water that might explain the tragic fate of the ship.
The archaeologists did, however, bring nine more artifacts to the surface for conservation, including a ceramic pitcher and an artificial horizon used for navigation from an officer's cabin on the lower deck.
In the last seven days, genealogical sleuthing techniques that are old to a handful of genealogists but new to most law enforcement have led to arrests in Washington State and Pennsylvania and unearthed a lead in a 37-year-old murder in Texas. All three cases were only revived when crime scene DNA was uploaded to GEDMatch, the same open-source ancestry site used in the Golden State killer case.
Neuroscientists have long believed that memories are stored in the synapses, or junctions between the brain’s neurons. But UCLA neurobiologist David Glanzman subscribes to a different theory: the key to at least some memory storage, he thinks, is RNA, the cellular “messenger” that makes proteins and transmits DNA’s instructions to other parts of the cell.
The most important set of genetic instructions we all get comes from our DNA, passed down through generations. But the environment we live in can make genetic changes, too.
Last year, researchers discovered that these kinds of environmental genetic changes can be passed down for a whopping 14 generations in an animal – the largest span ever observed in a creature, in this case being a dynasty of C. elegans nematodes (roundworms).
Louie Kamookak, Inuit oral historian who pointed way to Franklin shipwrecks, dies aged 58 and will be honoured in Canada
Growing up in the Canadian Arctic, Louie Kamookak was captivated by tales from Inuit elders of rusted utensils strewn along a remote shore and mysterious white men using ropes to haul a large ship through the ice.
Years later, he realized there was a striking resemblance between the stories of his youth and historical accounts of the ill-fated expedition of Sir John Franklin, whose two ships – and 129 crew members – vanished while searching for the North-West Passage in the 1840s.
Kamookak compared Inuit stories with explorers’ logbooks and journals to develop a working theory of where the ships might be.
He shared these thoughts with Canadian archaeologists, and was eventually vindicated in a spectacular fashion when, using his directions, divers located the HMS Erebus in 2014, and two years later, the Terror.
Margaret Riley is a wordsmith, slow-kayaker, slow-skiier, photographer of strange realities, and a deep believer in the magic of story time.